The alarm blares in my ear and I fumble to tap snooze. 9 minutes later I hit it again, since I’m lucky today and my daughter hasn’t already bounded into the room with a “Hi Mommy!”
Ugh. Another night lying in bed, mind racing, unable to drift off.
I’m just awake enough now to be frustrated that I had a hard time falling asleep AGAIN. I truly thought I was past this. Back before I was married, I dealt with a lot of stress that affected my sleep. As a result, lack of sleep was a cause of even more stress.
But after some counseling where I learned how to manage and process my emotions, adjust my evening routine and deal appropriately with the stress in my life, I saw incredible improvements in my ability to fall asleep faster.
So why was this issue popping up again? I mean, seriously, military wives and moms of toddlers don’t have any stress or pressing issues keeping them awake at night, RIGHT??? (Um in what universe?)
BTW– I wrote this post as a follow up to a new study that just came out THIS MONTH saying that military spouses are sleep deprived.
It found that:
“Military spouses are getting below the average amount of sleep recommended for adults — and that sleep quality is even worse for spouses of currently deployed service members.” (read the full article here on Military.com)
This sleep issue does come back to haunt me. When it does, I return to the tools and tips I learned in counseling and evaluate how I might have drifted into habits that keep me from my precious 8 hours (ok 7ish hours?). Because seriously, I can’t function if I am drowsy and lethargic, especially now that I’m pregnant!
The magic question is… what exactly did I learn that helps me get more sleep? Look no further…
8 Easy Ways To Fall Asleep Faster And Feel Amazing In The Morning
1- Reduce Caffeine Intake
When I had major trouble sleeping, I started with reducing my caffeine intake.
Caffeine affects people differently. My husband can fall asleep easily after drinking caffeine while I can’t drink it much after noon. I’ve never been a huge coffee person, but if you drink coffee, black tea or energy drinks, you might need to stop earlier in the day than usual– or quit it all together if insomnia is a big problem.
Chocolate is one my addictions, but sadly it has caffeine too (what!). I’ve had to stop eating it after 8pm. I do cheat sometimes, but I usually pay with not being able to fall asleep very quickly.
Setting a boundary and playing around with the time you need to cut yourself off from caffeine can really help you fall asleep faster.
2- Exercise To Get More Rest…?
One study suggests that “People sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.” –sleepfoundation.com
150 hours (30 minutes per day 5 days a week) is the base recommended amount of activity to maintain good health. Physical activity can be hard to fit in to an already packed schedule, but 10 minutes of activity, 3x per day, meets the goal of 30 minutes per day.
So even if you can’t do a 30 minute workout, you can still count all the running around after your kids, cleaning up messes, walking the dog, and unloading groceries as activity.
Odds are if you stay active, you’ll sleep longer and fall asleep more easily.
(Get out ‘the way! Avoiding this pup’s shake is a good calorie burner!)
3- Establish A Bedtime Routine & Do It Consistently
During the height of my stress (experiencing physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizzyness etc) I learned to wash my face, brush my teeth, put on PJs, etc, in the same order each night.
I don’t stick to this so much any more, but sometimes I need to get back to a more strict routine.
The idea is that if you create a pattern that you follow regularly, your body will begin to get into a rhythm. The routine triggers the signal “sleep is coming,” which can help you fall asleep more easily.
4- Go To Bed And Get Up At Around The Same Times Every Night/Morning
When I vary my time of going to bed and getting up too drastically, my body doesn’t know when to expect rest. Being consistent can be tough when the kiddo is sick, weekends, during a move, or during deployment. The more I can stay on a schedule, the more my body can handle an occasional late night or challenging week.
5- Dim The Lights & Don’t Use Stimulating Electronics Before Bed
TV, phones, and pad devices all send off bright lights that are very stimulating. Your mind can misread the light to mean it’s daytime, and it won’t transition to sleep. When I set good boundaries and take in less light in the evening (i.e. put down my phone), my brain starts winding down. Doing this helps a LOT and I find myself falling asleep much more quickly.
6- Do Something Relaxing Before Bed
Sometimes reading a magazine or book, spending time in prayer, or listening to calming music can help me quiet my thoughts. Taking our minds off our daily responsibilities can be another signal for the mind and body to head towards sleep.
7- Recycle Your Routine
My counselor taught me that if I’m lying in bed wide awake for more than 15-20 minutes, get up and “recycle” my bedtime routine. I get a drink, use the restroom, or rinse my face with water. By repeating my routine, it can help remind my mind and body that it’s time for sleeping.
8- Using Sleep Aids
Some people do have to result to medication for a short time while suffering from a lack of sleep (be sure to consult a physician!). However in most cases, that doesn’t have to be the first option.
I put lavender essential oil on my wrists, and I also put it in my daughter’s night-light diffuser. I truly believe that it helps us both relax and fall asleep more easily.
Sleep now or forever hold your peace…
Thankfully, when I review these tips and actually do them, most days I wake up feeling refreshed.
I guess I’d better be sure I’m well-rested in the next 12 weeks because after that, it won’t be the alarm blaring in my ear each morning– it will be a newborn baby. And she won’t come with a snooze button!
If you have trouble falling asleep, what helps you finally get some zzzz’s?